Old Quarter of Hanoi
There is no way I can describe the magic and chaos of the Old Quarter of Hanoi. It is sprawling! You can buy anything and any type of food here. Almost everyone here rides a motorbike and there are no real traffic laws. You just cross the street and the motorbikes simply go around you. It is crazy the first few times you cross the street but it gets easier. The only time I almost got him by a motorbike is when I panicked and stopped. Do not do that. Keep walking at one pace and the bikes will seamlessly avoid you.
You can easily get lost in Old Quarter but don’t freak out too much. Much like Venice, Italy, this is a place you want to get lost in. We didn’t have an itinerary so it was interesting to just watch life go by in the Old Quarter. We did get turned around a few times but it is such a lively place that it didn’t bother us. It is very humid in Hanoi so I recommend having a lot of water on you in case you do get a bit lost. I think I could walk around the Old Quarter for hours without a destination. It is the most different place I have ever seen. Every street is named something different like “Button Street” or “Chicken Street.” Just like the name says, that street sells just buttons or chicken products. The sidewalks are used for everything here so don’t be alarmed when a motorbike pulls up next to you to park. It was often better for us to walk in the street and not on the sidewalks.
The Old Quarter of Hanoi is not for those who are easily offended by sights, smells or noises. You will see dogs roasting, waiting to be eaten. You will see a woman cooking an entire chicken in a pot on the side of the road. You will smell things that are very unusual. There is constant honking from the cars and motorbikes. There are even men who try to take off your shoes and clean them for you. None of this bothered us and I suppose this is why we wanted to visit Vietnam in the first place. We wanted to experience something different. I advise not letting any of this stop you from really enjoying how beautiful the Old Quarter is. I don’t think I will ever forget how wonderful the ivy looked hanging from the rooftops of old buildings.